A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Rescue Me is an unflinching look at the lives of firefighters. These rough-and-tumble men -- and the occasional woman -- put their lives on the line when they go to work, and their language is as rough as the situations they face. When they're not fighting fires, they're usually crass, sometimes violent, often drunk, and always looking for either sex or love, though not always at the same time. In short, they're very human, very flawed, and very real.
What's the story?
Tommy Gavin (Denis Leary) has problems. He's an alcoholic who's hardly trying to control his drinking, his ex-wife hates him even more than most divorcees hate their former husbands, and he sometimes finds himself having conversations with dead friends and family members. The one place where Tommy, the senior firefighter at a busy New York firehouse, feels on solid ground is at work. Though this compelling and realistic drama centers on Tommy and his complicated life, his co-workers are also important characters with plenty of their own problems -- and helping his fellow firefighters sort through their issues helps Tommy (and viewers) realize that everybody's life can sometimes get pretty messy.
Is it any good?
Though the firefighting scenes are exciting, the strength of RESCUE ME is that the characters' problems and crises are all very believable; watching Tommy and his pals try to figure out what to do with their lives feels like it could be anyone trying to muddle through life. Viewers might be put off by the language; firefighters can't really be expected to watch their words when battling a blaze, and the station house seems much like a lived-in locker room, but these guys are incredibly foul-mouthed by any standard. There's not a bad word ever coined that they don't use liberally, and they make up plenty more that are creatively explicit.
Still, Rescue Me goes a step beyond the standard hospital or police station ensemble drama because its characters have more going on in their lives than what happens at work. That said, the level of complication and complex shades of gray in those lives make the series iffy for all but the most mature teens.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how they would react to some of the conflicts that Tommy and his pals face. The show creates extreme but realistic situations that require the characters to make difficult choices. In one important storyline, for example, Tommy, his father, and his uncle take justice into their own hands. What do teens think they would do in a similar situation?
Do the ends ever justify the means? What can people do when they believe the law has failed them?
For kids who love drama
Our editors recommend
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.